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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Mac News > Saying Farewell: Lead news writer Malcolm Owen

Saying Farewell: Lead news writer Malcolm Owen
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Jun 22, 2016, 09:06 AM
The problem of doing something you love for a job is when you aren't able to do it anymore, and you have to separate yourself from it. As you are likely to be aware from earlier this week, myself and other members of the editorial team were informed our services will not be required from the end of this month. Since each of us are writing what could be described as a note of farewell for an impending closure, I'm now having to go through that separation process -- and believe me, it's hard.

I came to join this editorial team about four years ago, after a good friend helped me get a job. After seven years of soul-destroying work in a call center doing customer care, followed by a few months living off redundancy pay, I needed employment that didn't take me back to one of those hellholes. As luck would have it, a long-time friend of mine by the name of Jon Fingas pointed me toward a call for applicants for a technology blog he worked at, called Electronista. My hobby of writing for my own minuscule tech blog helped me get through the application process, and I had somehow managed to get a job where I got paid to write stuff on the internet.

Not long after joining, I was introduced to the rest of the crew, with Bradley McBurney, Sanjiv Sathiah, and Charles Martin, who had a part in beating the Britishness out of my writing, and replacing it with an Americanized twang, shortly joined on the staff by Mike Wuerthele, among other bright-eyed and bushy-tailed writers. Much, much later on, people like Amber Neely and William Gallagher (the only person I regularly talk to who has their own Wikipedia page) hopped aboard, and though many moved on to new things, this group has stayed the course to the very end.

Of course, while I could easily call this a dream job, it had its challenges. The need to occasionally leave the house after being in it for the entire week and suffering from cabin fever; trying to endure flying with EasyJet and surviving Mobile World Congress a few times; communicating with team members over Skype and via text, instead of face-to-face; yelling at family members to turn off their downloads, because the BT HomeHub and internet connection was too weedy to support more than two people at a time, and the connection was saturated when I needed to watch an Apple keynote. You know, small challenges.

As time moved on, my original reason for joining the site changed, as Electronista was shut down in favor of devoting all resources to MacNN, due to a cut in ad revenue from Google. This in itself was challenging -- with the need to catch up on Mac and iOS-related news after years of writing about everything else, and even returning to becoming a Mac user -- forcing me to rely on my comrades for assistance. My dumb questions about the top row on the Mac keyboard. Asking about small bits of Apple-related trivia when a quick Google search came up with nothing concrete. They supported me, and helped me to do my job.

It is this team and the work chatroom that I will miss once the doors close on MacNN. The chatroom is a place for us to support each other, both in our work and out of it. It is a place where discussions about new iOS stuff, intermingled with random YouTube videos, bad puns from Mr. Martin, discussions about what to bring up in the next podcast recording session, and weird items from the internet that brought us closer together. They even tolerate feline intervention, with a random line of characters prompting responses ranging from a question posed to the kitty about the current conversation, to the simple acknowledgement of "Cat?" Yes, cat.

Malcolm Owen (left), Bond (cat)
Malcolm Owen (left), Bond (cat)

These people I talk to pretty much every day, I can't simply call them colleagues. For someone who lives in what could more generously be described as rural South Wales, or more accurately "the middle of bloody nowhere," I consider them friends. If they somehow ended up in a bar vaguely close to me, I'd offer them a drink, despite being a teetotaler. I know that by closing the site, the party is being split into different directions, with each most likely following a different path of employment, but I would hope to work with this fantastic group of people again sometime after the end, or at the very least to keep in some form of contact with everyone.

As for MacNN itself, it has been a fine vessel for this crew to sail across the high seas of the internet. I take pride that we tried to drill down into news to try and find the "real" story as much as we could. We strove for accuracy and quality over writing clickbait or easy stories whenever we had the chance. I'm over the moon that this place lasted for over two freaking decades, and I'm proud that I was a part of it for the last few years.

Lastly, you. Without you, this site wouldn't have lasted for the length of time that it did. We wouldn't be here slapping keys and filling the browser with text if there wasn't someone to read it on a regular basis. Without you, I wouldn't have met a fantastic group of people, lived the dream that is internet journalism, and annoyed people in a cafe in Barcelona by ordering food without knowing any Spanish aside from "hello" and "thank you."

Thank you for reading, and I hope you continue to support the MacNN editorial team as we move off into the sunset and onto new projects, whatever they turn out to be.

-- Malcolm Owen (@MalcolmOwen)

Series continues on Friday, with thoughts from Editor Charles Martin.
( Last edited by NewsPoster; Jun 22, 2016 at 08:11 PM. )
William Timberman
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Jun 22, 2016, 09:45 AM
Have especially enjoyed your "One More Thing" podcasts with William Gallagher. Not having you two to cheer me up on Wednesdays here in the US is going to be a real drag. After Electronista went, I'd kept my fingers tightly crossed for MacNN itself. "Don't worry, quality will out," I told myself, knowing full well that it ain't necessarily so in our brutal world of Internet commerce. You did what you could, and believe me, you have your fans. Best of luck to you in future -- I'll keep my eye out for all of you, and hope to see you all back in the saddle soon.
William Timberman
Mike Wuerthele
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Jun 22, 2016, 09:53 AM
Thanks for the kind words, William. I'm doing what I can to be sure the guys land on their feet.
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Jun 22, 2016, 11:07 AM
Thanks for all of your journalistic skill and hard work! We readers have been better off for it.
Earth is Heaven in Drag.
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Jun 22, 2016, 12:57 PM
Any thoughts on teaming with the appleworld.today (formally tuaw.com) ? It seems that they're hurting cash, but still chugging along. Perhaps combining readership would lead to a sustainable site?

I hope it all works out. I'm going to miss this place.
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Jun 22, 2016, 02:50 PM
Thank you for all that you've done. Good luck and best wishes!
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Jun 22, 2016, 02:53 PM
You'll all be missed. Other than email, you're the only thing I visited every day...
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Jun 22, 2016, 04:52 PM
Wish you all the best, I am sure you will find something new you love just as much. Best wishes to you and all the rest. And thank you.
Steve Wilkinson
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Jun 25, 2016, 04:43 PM
Hey Malcolm... I'm going to miss you guys lots, and thanks for what you've contributed.

I wonder, though, how much the powers-that-be have looked at other forms of support beyond ad-revenue (I'd imagine they have, but just throwing it out there, as it seems about every news outlet is struggling with this same thing... I think ad-revenue-only supported, real journalism, is dead).

I listen to a number of podcasts that are going a value-for-value model and dropping ads altogether, and some are doing well, while others struggle. But, that seems to be a viable model IF the support can be rallied. (ex: https://www.patreon.com)

The reason I say this, is that I don't pay much attention to traditional media anymore, because the signal to noise ratio has gone through the roof. And, I'm not paying for that garbage, even by clicking ads. I think what we need, in this age of static, are some clear signals of focused information on what we care about. And, like the newspaper of old, I think people are willing to pay some amount for that. There's only so much free garbage I can consume, and at some point, it's worth paying not to have to wade through it! But, I also recognize the pay-wall problem (being a website designer and web marketer).

So, IMO, the future is in providing great content (free of garbage), and then asking people to support it (kind of more the old public radio model). That way you get both discovery and reciprocity. (And, affiliates are great too if they are *clearly* disclosed as such... I'll happily - no, even seek out - clicking on an affiliate link for people I want to support. That can be huge for high-traffic sites... cf. Pat Flynn)

Anyway, I wish it weren't so... but if it is, I wish you guys all the best, and hopefully I'll run into you in other channels!
Steve Wilkinson
Web designer | Christian apologist
cgWerks | TilledSoil.org
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